Tuesday, August 25, 2015


If I was another 20 pounds heavier, I would not get up those stairs.

This has nothing to do with levels of fitness, but with the fact there are piles of boxes and stuff from floor to ceiling up 2 flights of stairs and along the hallways. In the bedroom there is a narrow pathway between the door and the bed, while the bed itself is a merely a mattress on top of more boxes of stuff. The living room door has been removed and a curtain placed there instead to allow access. If you are too wide, you risk getting wedged.

I have no idea what colour or design her wallpaper is.

Most people are guilty of holding on to things because they might come in handy one day, rather than being of daily, weekly or even seasonal use. We've all experienced that feeling of having thrown something out, only to discover it would have been the ideal solution to a problem 2 weeks later. But this relative of mine has taken it to a whole new level.

It has become a burden. She knows she needs to do something about it. She could make a small fortune selling it all at car boot sales or on eBay. She knows this too, which is why she couldn't take the other route of throwing it all out. It has all become too big and too scary to even know where to start.

She knows its dysfunctional. This level of hoarding is the kind of thing they make Channel 4 documentaries about.

Every time Maggie, the kids and I go on holiday and rent a place for a week, we get by with a minimal amount of stuff. The cottage or apartment we stay in has all the furniture, fittings and kitchen utensils needed, but beyond a handful of books, games and DVDs left for the guests, it will be uncluttered.

We live for a week like this and love the sense of space and lack of responsibility for decades of accumulated stuff. We resolve to have a major clear out when we get home and adopt a considerably more minimalist lifestyle.

Of course, once home and faced with all the stuff, either it is useful or it has sentimental value of some kind - evoking memories of a time and place we'd forgotten until we picked it up and were reminded. Now, with that memory fresh, we don't want to lose it. To throw away that object would be like throwing away access to a memory. The decision to discard it is scarier than putting it back with a promise to deal with it another day.

My problems with physical hoarding are nothing like the level of my relative, but I've come to realise I have a deeper problem with hoarding ideas - interesting bits of information, something to learn, something to try out, things to do, stuff which will definitely come in handy one day.

I have endless folders, boxes, bags and piles of scraps of paper with things scribbled on them. I have hundreds of emails sitting open in my inbox ready to look at in depth when I have the time to spare. Typically I have anything from 15 to 25 windows open in my browser, with web pages I need to come back to when I've got a moment.

Each of these thoughts, ideas and bits of information has potential. Each one kept with hope and expectation of solving problems, improving my life or improving the lives of others if I harness it right.

Discarding them would be throwing away possibilities and dreams.

I don't harshly judge my relative for her compulsive hoarding, for I am guilty of exactly the same thing, just expressed in a slightly different way.

My name is Kim. And I am a Hoarder.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Inside the Softbox

"What if I climb inside it?"

"There's only one way to find out..."

A few months ago I bought a large softbox - about 6 foot high.

Photo from Amazon

I've used it on a few photo shoots and really like the effect I get from it. You stick the lights in the side, and it diffuses across the large front panel, creating a soft light and creamy shadows.

Softbox in action (on the right) during my demonstrations over Spring Fling

Last week I was photographing the artist, Isabell Buenz for a project I'm working on. More of that will be announced probably next year.

Quite often on a photo shoot, once I've got the photo I set out to create, if we have time I like to experiment and play. The equipment is all there, but now the pressure is off, sometimes unexpected and interesting things can happen.

And in this case Isabell thought it might be fun to try out some shots of her inside the large softbox, rather than having it pointing at her. So in she climbed, I set up a flash on a stand on either side and took about half a dozen photos while she changed positions each time.

With light and shadows from both sides and the diffuse nature of the material, the result were quite abstract, even Picasso-esque in some places.

Here are some of the results, but for the full set, click through to my Facebook page

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Photographing Finding Albert at Springkell Castle

Finding Albert are a locally based band that have been making waves much further afield over the past few years. Regularly playing around the UK, they even did a wee Australian tour last year.

We started chatting about doing a photo shoot over 2 years ago, but for one reason or another the timing has never really worked out. However, a couple of months back lead singer, Robert, got in touch to discuss ideas. They were looking for more than just 5 blokes in front of a garage door (typical indie-band shot) and were after something a bit more theatrical.

As ideas began to take shape, they managed to secure the use of Springkell Castle - a wonderful old mansion originally built in the 18th Century and then updated and added to by successive descendants and owners.

The weather looked good for the chosen evening so initially we thought about doing an outdoor shoot. The guys even brought along some manikins to give it a slightly more surreal feel.

Unfortunately we were a bit later getting everyone there and organised than planned, so the sun had just started disappearing round the side of the building and we lost the light. I played with off-camera flashes for a short while, but wasn't able to capture what I'd envisaged, so we headed indoors.

The most obvious place to set up was the rather grand entrance hall with its wood panelling, marble pillars and tiled floor.

Although once Mark discovered the tricycle, it proved almost impossible to get him off it...

To create the lighting effect I wanted, I set up 2 strobes - one in the main foyer and one on the other side of the arches.

I have to say the guys were really easy to photograph. They all knew how to adopt the mean and moody look for the camera, and yet off-camera they were warm friendly, helpful and not the slightest hint of any diva-like attitude.

Here are a couple of the final images: